here for PDF format
of Meeting with David Schultz
8301 Creekside Circle,
Bloomington, MN 55437
Friday, March 10, 2006
David Schultz, professor,
Graduate School of Management, Hamline
Verne Johnson, chair; Chuck Clay, Paul
Gilje, Jim Hetland, Jim Olson (by phone), and Clarence Shallbetter
Introduction of David Schultz--Verne
introduced Schultz, professor, Graduate School of Management, Hamline
Schultz is former chair of Common Cause,
Minnesota. He has a Ph.D. in political
science and a law degree from the University of
He has authored 20 books. He is a nationally-recognized expert on
political ethics, money and politics, political participation, and eminent
domain law and has been a frequent commentator on television, radio, and
in over 100 domestic and international newspapers and periodicals,
including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
Comments and discussion with Schultz--During
his comments and discussion with the Civic Caucus, the following points
1. Outline of his remarks--Having
reviewed the summaries of previous thought leaders, Schultz said that
today he'll address four areas, in the following order: (a) money in
politics, (b) government structure, (c) leadership, and (d) ideology or
2. Money in politics--Schultz
said he has been tracking the flow of money in politics on a state and
national basis since the early 1990s as well as teaching election law.
The current polarization and paralysis in Minnesota politics is directly
the result of the stalemate, or "cold war", if you will, in fundraising by
the DFL and GOP in Minnesota. Amounts given to DFL and GOP legislators,
in total, are approximately equal. As a consequence neither side is able
to move its positions, because they are tied so closely to the desires of
the lobbyists, PACs and special interests providing the money.
total amount given to each legislator, with the effect of entrenching the
process is more than $100,000 a year, with a total of over $777,000 per
legislator since 1999. As a result of this spending to affect both
elections and the policy making process, neither side can maneuver, and it
is impossible to compromise.
3. Campaign finance trumps other reasons for stalemate--Asked
about such issues as ideology, Schultz said campaign finance is more
important in explaining polarization. The parties really aren't all that
different, philosophically. You have Democrats who are close to corporate
interests and Republicans who have connections with labor groups But
it's the campaign money that requires them to be so inflexible in their
4. Real influence occurs during the legislative
session--Schultz said that
money given directly to candidates and their campaigns represents only
eight percent of the total amounts given. The other 92 percent comes from
(a) soft money, the money given in unrestricted amounts to the parties,
the caucuses and the interest groups, (b) independent expenditures by
interest groups on their own, and (c) hiring lobbyists.
The real influence
from money comes during the session with all the interest groups trying to
affect the process, as contrasted with money given for the campaigns
Schultz did a study
of money spent by different industries. If you're in the tobacco or
firearms industry, you don't give money to individual candidates. Most of
them won't take the money from such sources anyway. You give the money to
the parties, the caucuses, and the caucus leadership. The parties decide
the platform and the caucus leadership decides what bills will be heard.
You need to recognize that the big contributors think of giving to
politics as a business investment. You give your money where your
investment really pays off.
5. Collapse of campaign finance reform in
has really happened to improve the system since the laws advocated by Sen.
John Marty were adopted in 1994. The Center for Public Integrity in
Washington, D. C., which tracks campaign finance reforms formerly placed
among the better states. But now we're in the middle of the pack. We're
no longer a leadership force for change in the states.
that he's been fighting for many years to retain the ban on gifts to
legislators by lobbyists. Some very respected individuals and
organizations want to repeal the gift ban, he said.
The situation in
Minnesota is similar to the national picture, he said. Nationally, we
need to go after the 527 groups. Right now nothing in the way of reform
seems to be moving in Minnesota.
6. Importance of structural change--Moving
to the second point in his outline, Schultz said the state's budget
process is "completely backwards". First the Legislature convenes.
Second, the Governor issues the proposed budget for the state. Third, the
fiscal forecast occurs. It makes no sense to assemble the Legislature and
make them wait around a few weeks with nothing to do, until the Governor's
budget message. Moreover, the budget message shouldn't precede the fiscal
forecast. Instead, he said, the fiscal forecast should come first,
followed by the Governor's budget, and then the Legislature can get to
7. Consider changes similar to that of
suggested Minnesota could do well to adopt some changes already in effect
in Wisconsin: (a) a joint committee on the budget, (b) a single bill with
all appropriations, including the tax provisions, rather than several
separate bills, and (c) a continuing resolution to keep government running
in event of an impasse.
8. Consider a constitutional convention?--Schultz
suggested that maybe the time is coming when we need to convene a
constitutional convention to see if the document prepared in 1858 is the
kind of government structure we want for the 21st century. He mentioned
that Governor Ventura, Dean Barkley, and George Pillsbury all have argued
for a unicameral Legislature. Schultz said he personally goes back and
forth on that issue. He repeated his point that campaign finance reform
comes first. What good would it do to have only one House and fewer
legislators, if you kept the same campaign finance laws, he asked?
When he testifies on
money and politics, Schultz says that he stresses the problem is not about
corruption. It's a structural defect. Put people in a certain
environment and they'll act in a certain way. Today's environment
discourages innovation and going against the wishes of special interest
groups. As important as structure is, Schultz said the first step is to
make changes in campaign finance.
9. Importance of leadership--On
the third point in his outline, leadership, Schultz said you can't produce
great leaders where money discourages innovation and structure allows
little room for movement. While perhaps once the state produced great
leaders, it no longer does so because money makes it difficult for true
leaders to be liberated from special interests. In addition, one thing
that fascinates Schultz about political leadership in Minnesota is the
extent that families have members of the second and third generation
participating. He mentioned Orville and Mike Freeman and Walter and Ted
Mondale. What this suggests is that a closed political system is not
encouraging new and real leaders. Instead, name recognition and family
connects determine more of one’s ability to attract money and support than
does real innovation or leadership.
10. Ideology and knowledge--On
the fourth point in his outline, ideology and knowledge, Schultz said he
is concerned with how often our legislators act on the basis of ideology,
not on the basis of whether something works or not. He recalled his own
work in New York as a housing and economic planner. He said solid
evidence exists in social science that often demonstrates what kinds of
program work, or at least what does not work. For example, he said,
business tax incentives and state tax subsidies don't work in creating
jobs, but that's the kind of policy that is adopted.
11. Changes in campaign finance--Schultz
said he has a detailed report on his proposals and will send us a copy.
First, he said, he would place a limit of $500 on the amount of soft money
that anyone can contribute to parties and caucuses. Second, he wants
real disclosure of lobbyist contributions. He elaborated on this point by
saying that he would prohibit lobbyists from making contributions and
would require full disclosure by lobbyists of whom they are talking to and
on what bills.
He would require
instant disclosure of the sources of funding for independent expenditures
by interest groups. When such expenditures are made to urge voters to
support certain candidates, he would provide public money to allow
opposing candidates to respond.
He doesn't believe
in 100 percent public funding of campaigns. He likes the idea of
individuals supporting the candidates they want to see elected with modest
constitutionality of his proposals, Schultz said court cases support what
he is advocating.
12. Background on Common Cause--While
the national organization still is active, Common Cause Minnesota is
essentially dead. A few years ago the national organization decided to
withdraw its funding for state organizations. New leadership in
Minnesota also did not go along with national requirements that membership
within the state organizations be non-partisan.
13. Changes in the judiciary--Schultz
said recent court cases will allow candidates for judges in Minnesota to
announce their positions on issues in advance, to affiliate with parties,
and to seek contributions. He is opposed to such changes. He said that
Minnesota ought to make judges appointed, not for life, but perhaps for
10-year terms. He'd support selection by the Governor, with
recommendations coming from an independent judicial selection committee
(not appointed by the Governor). Obviously, a constitutional amendment
would be required. Or perhaps the issue would be part of an agenda for a
has good judges. Governor Ventura made good selections. Part of his work
on appointments relates to Dean Barkley, who was on his staff. Barkley
now is in Texas running a candidate's campaign for Governor.
14. Disclosure not enough--In
response to a question Schultz said that persons who advocate only full
disclosure of campaign contributions are not going far enough. He said he
has written an article for the Election Law Journal on that subject.
said it is a conflict of interest for legislators to set the boundaries of
the districts where they run. He likes the Iowa process. Asked about how
to make districts competitive, what with other requirements present such
as compactness and racial balance, Schultz said he is attracted by the
concept of multi-member districts. Perhaps you could have two
representatives running at-large within a Senate district. Jim Olson
reminded the group that the Voting Rights Act, which is up for renewal in
2007, could be amended to require additional features such as
16. Instant runoff voting--Schultz
said he likes instant runoff voting and has been working with the Fair
Vote Minnesota group that is advocating that system.
17. Appropriations provisions in the state
asked about the growing interest in creating dedicated funds in the state
constitution. At least two proposals are active in the 2006 Legislature,
one for natural resources and one for transportation. Paul observed that
it is interesting that other functions, such as education, could seek the
same provisions. It was noted that such actions have the effect of
turning the constitution into an appropriations bill and removing
discretion from the State Legislature over apportionment of funds.
Schultz, a lawyer
himself who has taught constitutional law in law school, said he opposes
such constitutional changes. It reflects that no one seems to trust the
Legislature, he said.
whether the Civic Caucus might provide a service this summer by inviting a
number of speakers to address the Caucus on questions about what is
appropriate to include in the constitution. We would then circulate
summaries of such meetings widely, just as we have over the last five-six
months on the questions of future of our democracy. He asked Schultz
whether such education would be an appropriate action for us. Schultz
replied, yes. He said that he would have added a fifth point to his
presentation today, concerning citizen education. Currently, he teaches
graduate management to city and county administrators and employees of the
Legislature. He said everything deals with empowering people by giving
18. Concerns about public education--Continuing
our discussion on another aspect of education, Schultz criticized the
Legislature for getting involved in writing educational curriculum. He
said he trusts high school teachers and thinks the Legislature has made
the situation worse for teachers by micro-managing.
19. Concerns about charter schools--Asked
about the charter school movement, Schultz said he doesn't favor charter
schools. He's concerned about using public dollars to support religious
education. He also said there's no evidence that the choice system
improves educational output. He was pressed on this matter, given the
concerns of parents in central city schools and their wide use of choice
options that are available. He criticized the bureaucracy in the St. Paul
schools but said he is not convinced that choice is the answer. We
aren't getting at the fundamental problems of family support and
nutrition, which are key to improved education, he said. He also said he
opposes certain disincentives that are present to provide all-day
kindergarten. He said he is a strong proponent of pre-kindergarten.
20. Possibility of the Civic Caucus as a
prototype--Verne said the
Civic Caucus, with its meetings with thought leaders and its circulation
of summaries via email to a large group of others, might be a prototype
for other states in sharing information. Schultz agreed, but he added
that you also need to translate knowledge into political action.
21. Opposes term limits--Schultz
opposes term limits for legislators and members of Congress. He said such
action would shift power to the staff and lobbyists.
thanked Schultz for meeting with us.
The Civic Caucus
is a non-partisan,
tax-exempt educational organization. Core participants
include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting
years of leadership in politics and business.
A working group meets face-to-face to
provide leadership. They are Verne C. Johnson, chair; Lee
Canning, Charles Clay, Bill Frenzel,
Paul Gilje, Jim Hetland,
John Mooty, Jim Olson, Wayne Popham and John Rollwagen.
Click Here to
see a biographical statement of each.